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U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Darrel Frank Carter, 69, passed away July 23, 2020, as a result of a tractor accident on his farm near Steens, Mississippi.
He was born July 16, 1951, in Sunnyside, Washington. He grew up on a farm in Eastern Washington with his mom and dad, George and Susan Carter, and seven siblings.
He became an inveterate tinkerer at an early age. Starting at age 11, he combed junkyards and farmers’ fields and located enough parts to assemble a 1926 Model T Ford, which he maintained for the rest of his life. In Prosser High School, he excelled as a scholar, started as a guard on the football team that won the state championship in 1968, was a standout wrestler on the school squad, played baritone in the band and was elected by his classmates to be student body president in his senior year.
He attended Washington State University, joined the Sigma Nu fraternity and graduated in 1973 with a degree in general studies. A member of the U.S. Air Force ROTC Program, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant and, after flight training, served as an instructor pilot in T-37 and T-38 jets at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi.
In 1975 he met and married a beautiful Southern belle, Ann Denton, of Columbus. They produced three talented children: Jonathan, a tech wizard, Marianne, a middle school teacher, and Darrel, Junior, an airline pilot.
Darrel and his family traveled often in the Air Force. He was stationed in Columbus, Mississippi; Dayton, Ohio; Sacramento, California; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Fort Walton Beach, Florida. He flew H-53 helicopters in a stellar career and retired in the rank of lieutenant colonel. He then flew 727s, DC-10s, and MD-11s for FedEx, traveling to many countries in the world. After a 13-year career with FedEx and residing in Memphis, Tennessee, he and Ann moved to their 20-acre farm near Steens, Mississippi, where Darrel enjoyed retirement but did not slow down. He built a shop for his vintage automobiles that he was restoring and a solar farm to sell electricity to the local utility. Darrel was an active member of the local Model T and Model A clubs. He and Ann routinely attended car events and enjoyed touring the South in his cars.
Darrel was a true Renaissance man. Not only could he play the piano beautifully, but he could also restore and retune it. He could capably argue politics and philosophy and rebuild a transmission. He established a great deal of the family history by his work in genealogy and built large additions to two of his homes. He could solve any mechanical puzzle placed before him. He collected guns dating from the Revolutionary War and could lecture exhaustively on the provenance of each. He was an expert Scrabble player but not quite as good as his wife.
Darrel is survived by his wife, Ann, his three children, and his grandchildren: Carter Pak, Liam Pak, Lucy Pak, Elliot Smith, and Alex Smith. He is also survived by his siblings, Dennis, Dwight, and Debra Susan. He was preceded in death by his parents and four siblings, David, Donald, Duncan, and Dale.
“His life was gentle, and the elements so mixed in him, that Nature might stand up and say to all the world, THIS WAS A MAN.” (Shakespeare, Julius Caesar) Keep on flying, Darrel. God speed.
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